Immortal Ice Empress: Path to Vengeance
Chapter 783.2: Prime Disciple Competition: Double Staircase Part 2

The moment Mira stepped into the Abyssal Torment Steps, the atmosphere shifted drastically. It was as though she had crossed the boundary into a different universe.

The ambient light that once surrounded her was completely consumed by darkness, and all the vibrant energy of the environment was replaced with a suffocating stillness.

The first challenge was immediate. As she stepped forward, a wave of intense emotions crashed over her.

She felt the weight of every positive emotion she had ever felt being drained from her.

The love she had for her companions, the hope she felt for the future, the joy of every accomplishment vanished, and the drive to keep moving forward was replaced by the cold embrace of despair, loneliness, and hopelessness.

However, she was used to shutting herself off and living like a cold-hearted machine. So, without hesitation, she took another step.

But, she had misunderstood the theme of this trial.

Landing on the 1252nd step, Mira felt something invade her mind and suck out every good thing that's happened to her throughout her life. Her love for Maria, her care for Dominique, the sweet memories of her past lives she kept locked up, and the reason she had for living. All of it was going down the drain.

Simultaneously, depression, hate, sorrow, and despair flooded her mind.

Mira's pulse quickened, each heartbeat echoing the growing void within her. The absolute darkness around seemed to crawl under her skin, wrapping its cold fingers around every fragment of joy and love she ever felt.

'This is just a trial. I've been through worse,' she thought desperately, trying to clutch onto the memories slipping away. But the more she grappled, the faster they seemed to vanish. The echoes of Maria's laughter, the warmth of Dominique's touch, and the myriad joys from her past lives - they dissolved as though being consumed by an insatiable black hole.

The sensations were nauseating. It felt like an endless fall into a bottomless pit, where every fleeting grasp at the known and loved only hastened the descent.

Still, there was no leaving now that she entered, and the only way out was to go through.

Thus, against her better judgment, her foot fell to the 1253rd step.

The feelings only became worse, but Mira tried not to focus on them, just wanting to get through this as quickly as possible.

As time passed, Mira's steps slowed, each one becoming heavier than the last. The vibrant memories she held onto were slowly being obscured, fading into grayscale.

The laughter she once shared with her companions was silenced, replaced by the dissonant whispers of desolation. The warmth she felt in their camaraderie was snuffed out, supplanted by an intense, bone-chilling coldness that wrapped around her heart.

Visions flashed before her eyes, distorted shadows of her past. The once bright and joyous days, where she and her sister laughed and played together, became distorted and distant. Each face she remembered was now a blank slate; their smiles and voices were distorted and faded until they were unrecognizable.

The verdant fields she once raced through with the wind in her hair became barren wastelands devoid of color and life.

The nights under the starry sky, filled with stories and dreams, were now an oppressive void that threatened to swallow her whole.

The taste of victory, the thrill of overcoming a challenge, the pride in her abilities - everything was stripped away, replaced by a gnawing emptiness that wanted nothing more than to swallow her whole.

It was a suffocating experience, like being submerged deep into the ocean where no light could penetrate, and every attempt to swim to the surface was met with the crushing pressure of the water above, dragging her further into the abyss.

A tightness gripped her chest. Tears threatened to spill, but they weren't tears of sadness. They were the manifestation of the raw emotion being forcefully torn away from her. Each teardrop that fell felt like a piece of her soul being chipped away.

However, among the harrowing void, a faint whisper echoed within her soul. It was the ethereal presence of her Nascent Soul, though distant and seemingly out of reach.

Even amidst the torrent of negative emotions, it remained a beacon, emitting a soft, shimmering light, almost as if it was signaling her to hold onto that faint glimmer of hope.

Amidst the cacophony of despair, each step Mira took on the Abyssal Torment Steps was a testament to her resilience. But with every descent, the hope offered by the soft luminescence of her Nascent Soul grew dimmer.

"One more step. Just one more," she whispered to herself with each laborious movement, trying to find strength in repetition. But as she stepped onto the 1275th stair, an overwhelming sense of loss engulfed her.

Memories of her first journey, of the lessons she had learned, and the people she had admired faded to distant echoes, their wisdom and guidance evaporating like mist under a scorching sun.

By the 1300th step, the smells of her childhood—the fresh-baked bread from the market, the scent of rain on dry earth, the comforting aroma of her mother's scent—were replaced by a sterile nothingness, a void devoid of any sensory experience.

The 1325th brought with it a sensation of drowning as though she were being submerged in an ocean of tar; every movement was laborious, every breath a fight. The silvery laughter of children, the comforting embrace of loved ones, the fleeting moments of pure, unbridled joy—everything was sinking, leaving behind a numbing, icy cold.

On the 1350th step, the melodies she held close—the lullabies her mother sang, the battle hymns of her comrades, even the heartbeat that resonated with her soul—were silenced, replaced by an all-encompassing quiet that threatened to deafen her.

With the 1375th step, even her sense of self began to waver. The convictions that had driven her, the beliefs she held dear, the essence of who Mira was—all of it became blurred as if she was looking at her reflection in a fogged mirror, unable to recognize the figure staring back.

Every subsequent step intensified her disconnection from reality, and her surroundings morphed into an ever-changing landscape of desolation. Towering cliffs of sorrow, oceans of regret, and skies painted with anguish became her new reality.

Yet, amid the relentless onslaught, the whisper of her Nascent Soul persisted, growing in urgency with every step. Even as the light it emitted seemed more distant, its plea was clear: Hold on. Remember.

The ethereal voice of her Nascent Soul, which had been a constant glimmer of hope amidst the overwhelming darkness, began to grow distant and distorted.

It morphed from its tender, familiar cadence into a tone more assertive and sometimes even commanding. With every step she took, the voice within her soul resonated, not as an encouraging whisper, but as a forceful prod, pushing her forward when her own strength waned.

And wane it did.

The journey on the Abyssal Torment Steps had transformed from an arduous descent into a brutal crawl.

Her knees buckled, and she felt herself teetering on the edge of consciousness. The weight of the despair and the pull of the abyss seemed insurmountable.

She no longer moved with purpose, but out of a detached sense of obligation, almost like a marionette whose strings were manipulated by an unseen hand.

By the 1399th step, Mira was barely more than a shell.

The radiant spirit and indomitable will that once characterized her were absent. In its place, a vacant puppet moved, each step more faltering than the last.

It was less a walk and more a series of stumbles, her body crashing against the cold stone with every descent.

Then, as her foot made contact with the 1400th step, a profound change overcame her. An ethereal radiance enveloped her being, originating from the deepest recesses of her soul. It was the Nascent Soul, and in this pivotal moment, a light expanded, shielding Mira from the oppressive void around her.

The oppressive dark receded momentarily, replaced by an invigorating aura. It was as though she had been submerged in cool, crystal waters, each droplet imbued with memories and emotions she thought were lost.

The sensation lasted no more than a heartbeat, but the clarity it brought was unparalleled.

Yet, when she opened her eyes, what she saw threatened to shatter the fragment of hope she had just rediscovered.

Before her stood Maria, her beautiful blonde lover. She looked as real as the last time Mira had seen her, with the same golden locks cascading down her back and eyes that shimmered like the clearest blue skies.

"What's going on, Mira? Where am I? How'd I get here?" Maria's voice was tinged with confusion and worry. She reached out, her fingers trembling, attempting to grab hold of Mira.

Mira's heart ached, torn between the joy of seeing Maria and the agonizing understanding that this could be yet another cruel trick of the Abyssal Torment Steps. However, Maria just looked too real for her to say that it wasn't a scheme.

"Maria… No, you're not real. It's impossible for you to be here." Mira whispered, her hand reaching for her scythe. "You're just an illusion. A test to break me."

She looked at Maria with killing intent and resolve, despite her chest aching.

Maria saw the look in Mira's eyes and knew she wasn't playing around.

"Wait! Mira! What are you doing?! What do you mean I'm not real?!" Maria backed away until she hit the wall behind her. "If I'm not real, then how can I remember our first meeting in the forest outside Lunar Fox City? I was abandoned and was saved by you!"

Chapter 783.2: Prime Disciple Competition: Double Staircase Part 2
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